In a big week of farewells and resignations, one more long-running show takes its leave from screens, at least until further notice, The Living Room.
In the 11 years the show has been on air it has won 4 Logie Awards for Most Popular Lifestyle Program, ending a 7 year run by rival Better Homes & Gardens.
Officially 10 is “resting” the show to rejuvenate the timeslot and hopefully refresh the show with Amanda Keller, Chris Brown, Miguel Maestre and Barry DuBois for 2024.
But seasoned performer Amanda Keller tells TV Tonight, television doesn’t always work out that way.
“The four of us as a force is such a rare thing”
“We’ve been told that we are being rested and having a tweak and retjzush, fluffing up the cushions and having a play again, we hope the following year. My concern as always is TV’s like a fast-moving river. The four of us as a force is such a rare thing,” she says.
“Chemistry, whether it’s on radio or TV, is such an elusive thing and the four of us have that in spades. We all can’t just sit out here and wait. But the four of us would always make time to make another show together, to make The Living Room together. But it’s a bit of an ask that we’re all going to be available at the same time. That’s the risk that Channel 10’s running here. That’s what upsets me, I think.
“It’s a big ask”
“A year down the track who knows what commitments… people have to feed their families, people want to keep working. We would do anything we could to be with each other again, but it’s a big ask.
“Our brand is something that’s so strong and so healthy, that you don’t want to muck around with it. But I don’t want to sound ungrateful. 10 have been amazing. But it’s a big thing to be cavalier with.”
Despite this, Keller remains grateful to 10 for giving the show a home for so many years.
“I don’t want to sound bitter. I’m very, very grateful that we’ve had 11 years”
“I don’t want to sound bitter. I’m very, very grateful that we’ve had 11 years, which has been incredible. You don’t want to be one of those shows holds on longer than you’ve got juice. But I already felt that this last year has been our best. We’ve had a couple of years, yes, that I think we went in directions that weren’t particularly us. But I do feel that this last year has been our best incarnation yet. And that’s why I was really surprised at the timing of the resting.”
The show underwent major changes in 2020, abandoning producers WTFN for an in-house production without its studio audience, with a warehouse base and helping out families with makeovers. Last week it drew 183,000 overnight viewers against Gardening Australia‘s 362,000 and BH&G‘s 351,000.
As Keller sees it, following The Project means 10 shows have steeper hurdles to overcome.
“I admire Channel 10 that they’ve stuck with The Project for so long. I admire that they’ve decided to do their evenings differently. But it does mean that if your show’s on at 7:30 it’s really hard to be compared to other shows. We’re up against Better Homes & Gardens, Gardening Australia and we do our best to hold our own in that capacity. I love that it’s a lifestyle night. But you know, they come off a rating of 900,000 from the news or something,” she admits.
“It’s harder for any Channel 10 show at 7:30.”
“It’s harder for any Channel 10 show at 7:30. So I’m grateful that we had 11 years. I think that we deserved a higher rating and I wish more people had seen us, but the people who do watch us are rusted-on, loyal fans who are wondering, like we are, what’s going on here?”
The final episode has a Christmas theme with a closing segment that looks back on highlights and the emotions and friendship between the four are candid.
“All four of us – Chris Brown as well – all of us crying at some of those great moments impacting people’s lives, which we’ve loved doing,” she insists.
“That love and support saved him.”
“A lot of it has been sharing the reality of our lives, with Barry announcing his illness had returned and the emotion that went with that. Barry looks down the barrel of the camera -and it makes me want to cry now- he thanks the audience for saving him. That love and support saved him.
“The people who love this show, rallied around him and made such a difference to his life, not just his career, his life.
“Miguel, this fierce Spaniard, talks about the what loyalty means, and that we are his family and he doesn’t say that lightly.”
She adds, “(10 Entertainment Exec) Stephen Tate once said we were kind of doing a Tonight show by stealth. But we lost our live audience, and that made a big difference too, because we fed off a live audience so well.”
Despite the sad end, Keller wishes the replacement show well. Sort of.
“The overriding feeling is you’re with your friends “
“I hope the other shows have great success on a Friday. But not too much, because we’d like to come back! It’s a tough gig on a Friday night when you’re up against footy for a lot of the year. But that’s why I love that idea you have a glass of wine on a Friday night, you have a laugh and you see something you may want to cook, make, somewhere you may want to travel. You get all of that. But the overriding feeling is you’re with your friends and you’re relaxing on a Friday night,” she observes.
“I know 10 really rate us and love us and they’re trying to find things for us in the meantime. That’s what they’ve said to us. But that’s not how the world really works all the time.
“We’re taking a nice long break over Christmas and then I’ll catch my breath for a little while and see what’s around. I’m in no hurry to jump into something. I’ve been spoiled with The Living Room I really have…So I’ll be a bit judicious about what comes next and hopefully, it’ll end up being with those jokers on The Living Room.”
Indeed, the Gold Logie nominee will be off contract with 10 as the show concludes, meaning another network could swoop upon her availability.
“That’s the nature of the beast. There it is. So I’ll be doing my Anusol commercials all over the place before you know it!”
“Everywhere I go, people tell me how much they love this show.”
Finally she leaves with a message for the show’s loyal fans.
“Thank you for your support. I’ve never worked on a show that has really hit people in the feels like The Living Room has, and I’ve loved that response. Everywhere I go, people tell me how much they love this show. They talk about Miguel, Chris and Barry. I’ve never ever had that and I don’t take that lightly. I will never forget how much I love hearing how people love this show. And I hope we get to do that again.
“Thank you for your loyalty. We’re working really hard to come back again.”
The Living Room finale airs 7:30pm Friday on 10.